One person that often gets lost in the Christmas Story is Joseph.
He was, by all accounts, an honorable and upright man who was devoutly devoted to God and the religious traditions of his people.
He was one who was ‘doing it right’, and was seeking a young woman—Mary—to be his bride. He’d probably been busy building a house for them to live in. He had sought permission, and it had been granted, to marry Mary. They were ‘betrothed’—committed to each other. All that was left was the ceremony, moving in together and ‘becoming one’ in all the ways God intended.
Yet, here Joseph was, suddenly confronted with a grim reality: Mary was pregnant!
He knew it couldn’t have been from himself, so he (naturally) assumed it was by another man—and that meant that Mary had been unfaithful to him!
In the laws of their people, she had apparently ‘broken covenant’ with Joseph, and she deserved to be punished.
Joseph loved Mary, however, and didn’t want to see her punished. He decided to break things off quietly, and just let it go. This was the best, most loving but most faithful way he could do it.
Then Mary comes with this incredible story—how an angel came to her and said she’d become pregnant with the Son of God! Seriously, how was he supposed to believe that? That was blasphemy!
The Joseph has a dream…
“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” (Matthew 1:20-23)
What was Joseph to do?
If he married Mary, everyone of his friends would know that either 1) They had been sexually active before marriage, which would ruin both of their reputations, or 2) Joseph had taken Mary as his wife despite her unfaithfulness, which would make him out to be a loser, her out to be unfaithful, and their baby to be illegitimate—to be shunned.
But Joseph knew what he had to do.
He had to take Mary as his wife and raise Jesus as his own.
That was the ‘faithful’ thing to do…and he did it with everything he had!
Consider and Discuss:
Why do you think Joseph made the choice that he did?
Have you ever been ‘called by God’ to do something that was difficult? How did that go?